NBA star Kristaps Porzingis is accused of rape; attorney claims extortion

/ CBS/AP

An attorney for Kristaps Porzingis acknowledged Saturday that a woman has accused the NBA star of rape, but says the Dallas Mavericks forward "unequivocally" denies the allegation. Lawyer Roland Riopelle said the claim against the player was part of an extortion attempt that is being investigated by the FBI.

Citing unidentified law enforcement officials, the New York Post and other news organizations reported earlier that a woman went to police Thursday and said Porzingis raped her in his Manhattan apartment last year while he was playing for the Knicks. A source told the Post that the woman admitted to police that she discussed getting $68,000 in hush money from Porzingis.

Kristaps Porzingis attends God's Love We Deliver, Golden Heart Awards at Spring Studios on October 16, 2018 in New York City. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Michael Kors

NYPD officials declined to comment.

While playing for the Knicks last year, Porzingis suffered a major knee injury during a game at Madison Square Garden against the Milwaukee Bucks that the Knicks lost. He then went home and invited the woman to his luxury Manhattan apartment where she alleges she was sexually assaulted, the Post said the woman told police.

"We made a formal referral to federal law enforcement on December 20th, 2018, based on the accuser's extortionate demands," Riopelle said in a statement.

The attorney says the NBA was also notified.

Porzingis, a 23-year-old native of Latvia, was traded to the Mavericks in January. But he's not expected to play with the team till next season while he recovers from the injury. CBSSports.com reports Porzingis has recovered from an ACL tear, but has not returned to game action as he continues to rehab.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Mavericks were aware of the investigation into Porzingis prior to trading for him.

On the February trade call to finalize the Dallas-New York deal, the Knicks informed the Mavericks of the pending rape allegation against Kristaps Porzingis, league sources tell ESPN. The league office had been previously made aware of the allegations.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 31, 2019

First published on March 31, 2019 / 7:45 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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